This week I have that strange feeling of not really being here, I’m drifting a lot and it’s only the terrible pain in my neck and back that stops me falling asleep, the cause of my aching exhaustion is an angry tooth in my eight year olds mouth. The weekend was spent administering calpol and ice packs to her screaming agony whilst we waited for an emergency dental appointment and a course of antibiotics, Rosie has bounced back with the resilience of youth but the sleepless nights have completely wrecked me, I was already running on empty and the niggling pain between my shoulders that has been quietly threatening a full on assault for weeks has now hit my defenceless body with a pitiless ferocity. The pain of course originates from the sewing, so work this week has been slow as I try not to bend my neck or tense my shoulders.
But I have managed to complete a few characters, a little talking Panda who is wondering where he can get some Bamboo, a lovely rabbit who is sharing her likes, cake, curly-haired boys and carrots cooked with cinnamon and butter, and a baby girl doll with a japanese feel to her, originally inspired by a small vintage brooch, 1960s I think. Also this week whilst waiting for Rosie’s dental appointment we visited my parents and I found my favourite old rag doll Sammy, my mum made him and his sister Sazzy for me in the early 70s, I was very little and used to bathe them a lot, I think that’s why Sazzy is no longer with us!
An example of this weeks foggy brain is that I’ve spelt curly wrong in my Rabbits speech bubble!! oops so that’s my first job today. I’m loving all the little embroidery details, they are created quite spontaneously without patterns or much reference to real stitches, I think this is a long-held reaction against the beautiful floral embroidery or crewel work kits attempted as a child, I remember trying to fill in the leaf and petal shapes with meticulous stitches … I didn’t get very far! unfortunately my brain does not work like that, I like to discover as I work and to see this journey unfold, the stitches visibly mapping with knots and bumps.
Each piece has its own story, the only formula I might adhere to is a rough shape or size for a series of work, if the piece requires more intricate work like the rabbit above then that becomes the story of that piece, the embroidered writing is slow work (especially when you don’t check your spelling!) and her swim suit was tricky as I worked into her stuffed body, if I had worked flat then added the embroidery I could have achieved a more precise finish but that is not what I wanted, her character is rather gauche but endearing, she sounds like she is doing her bit on a Rabbits dating site, she’s put on her best suit and hat but it’s all a bit wonky and her likes are quite specific, will she find her true love?
It’s funny because when I draw I am very precise and detailed, I like that slightly naive approach to drawing that I remember , I want to shake off stylistic formats learnt at art college. We discover our own voice through experience and by trying on many different voices along the way, Art college is a great facilitator for this and it also gives you a platform to react against. I remember my first attempts at life drawing where I sharpened my pencil and drew every tiny detail, the result I think was a tiny naked man sitting in a deck chair in the middle of a vast expanse of white paper, I moved onto charcoal and large expressive drawings covering the paper, moving off the paper, deconstructing the figure, I felt embarrassed by these early drawings. I have now gone full circle and embrace those early drawings as part of who I am naturally, I like the slightly awkward naive attempts at representation.